CHAPTER ELEVEN | Digging up Memories

Milena turned away from Sally.

“It’s not my decision!” the other woman protested.

Milena just threw up her hands and stormed away. If she stayed, she would slap her. Dani tried to get her attention, but she ignored her. It was childish, perhaps, but by the Sisters, if she had to talk to anyone from the League right now, she’d end up screaming their head off.

11001

Instead she stormed into Aaron’s former house, now an empty shell, and slammed the front door after herself. Aaron, who was in the living room, looking out the window, started at the sound. When he saw the scowl on her face, he sighed and turned away.

“They rejected your application again?”

“Yes!” She stomped the floor, her hands balled into fists. It was childish, but it felt good. “It’s so frustrating. I looked through a bunch of older cases that are like yours and they almost all got the permission to tell. I sent it along with my application and…” She let out a frustrated cry. “I don’t understand what’s wrong with their stupid heads!”

Aaron just smiled at her for a moment, then turned away.

“I appreciate you trying, Milena, but there’s no need. You’ve already helped me a great deal.”

She calmed down a bit, not willing to admit that it wasn’t just for his sake. If they found out she’d told him without permission, she would be in a world of trouble.

“Yeah, well, they’re being dumb. They should want to help you, too.”

“Don’t worry about me.”

He went quiet again. It left her wanting to shake him.

“Please, start smiling again!” she wanted to scream at him.

The past two weeks he’d been more quiet than ever. He had gone about finding a new house and selling the old one without many emotions. She wondered if she had been right to tell him about the Lover’s Talent or if that was what had broken him. Maybe it was just melancholy about selling the house. Maybe it was just because he had almost been murdered. Again.

Milena cleared her throat.

“I’d better go to the new house,” she said. “Gotta… check for assassins under the bed.”

It was the saddest excuse for humour she’d ever heard. He just nodded.

“Yeah, let’s go.”

11002

The words sounded as hollow as his footsteps in the empty house.

***

11003

The new house was smaller. It was situated a few streets away from the old one, and separated from view by a small copse of oak trees. Aaron liked it that way. It was there, in the past, always a part of him – but he didn’t need to look at it.

11003a

Milena walked ahead of him into the house, looking around before holding the door open to him.

“You weren’t joking about assassins under the bed, huh?” he asked.

“I wish I were.”

The darkness in her voice sent shivers down his spine. It reminded him that Siobhan and Nate got away. There was a reason Milena and the others were still here, and that reason was not just to act as a cheap moving service.

11004

11005

Dani and Janus had walked ahead of them; they were still checking under furniture and behind doors, as though they expected Siobhan to jump out and scream “Boo!”

Once they were done, they told him to just go about business as usual.

“I’ll… go work, then.” He smiled weakly at the three and went to his office.

As he was closing the door, he heard the them discussing whether they should have guards outside the windows, too. He slammed the door hard, deriving some sort of childish pleasure from the thought of scaring them. It was unfair, and he knew it.

11006

But they were hovering around him constantly. He was sure he could hear someone breathing right outside the door, and soon after he had sat down, Dani’s head bobbed past his windows. Back, forth, back, forth… Sometimes she took a break from walking back and forth and then… straight back at it. It was impossible to work when she was out there and he was just about to go out there and tell them to relax it a bit, when there was a knock on the door.

11007

Milena slipped in, and his annoyance relaxed a little.

Whenever the two were alone, she answered his questions.

“So, you’re hard at work?” she asked. She walked in and sat down.

“I was sort of distracted by Dani, actually.” He pointed out the window. “That’s going to get old.”

She winced. “I know. I’m so sorry, but because we don’t know why you’re being targeted…”

“I know, I know. You don’t understand why there are Talented Ones after me.”

“No, we don’t. That’s why I thought we could talk about those university friends again. You went to Greenford University, right?”

11008

Aaron sighed. “We’ve been over this so many times by now…”

Milena stopped him. “Look, I have an idea.”

She pulled a small vial of liquid out of her pocket with a sheepish smile. He only knew that it was one of the potions that the Talented used, but he didn’t know enough of them to tell which one. Contrary to what he had imagined, they weren’t neatly colour-coded. Most of them looked like vials of iced tea or lemon juice. This one was cloudy with a faint yellow colour.

“And that’s…?”

“It’s a Reader’s potion.”

“Do you mean a mindreading potion?”

She nodded and bit her lip. “See, I had hoped that they would approve my application and then we could call in a Reader – or use Sally – to help us in the investigation, but I guess I’ll have to do.”

His heart sank, and his head almost immediately started to throb.

“You want to read my mind?”

“I don’t particularly want to. I think I’ve already said I’m a shitty mind reader. So what’s probably going to happen is I mostly just… look at your thoughts a bit while you tell me about your friends again.”

He turned his head to look at Dani’s head that was bobbing past.

“What happens if they find out you’ve done this?”

“Best not to think about it.”

On the one hand, he didn’t like the idea of anybody reading his mind. On the other hand, this might be their only chance of finding out what was going on.

He sighed deeply. “Okay, let’s do it.”

***

11009

Late that evening, when they were sure Dani and Janus were sleeping, they sat down in Aaron’s bedroom on the bed, and Milena downed the Reader’s potion. Her face contorted as she swallowed it. By the sisters’ light, she hated this one.

“How does it taste?” he asked.

“A bit like bile.” She shivered. “It’s because it’s eh… not strictly speaking a registered potion.”

Aaron raised an eyebrow. She left out a couple of details, but told him that basically the League made their potions. Because they couldn’t know that Aaron knew, she hadn’t wanted to ask them for a potion she would normally never use – every time you asked for another vial, you had to tell them what it was for, give them a case number and so on. Normally, she had to be threatened with bodily harm before she would willingly read minds, and asking for one would raise suspicions.

“So I went to a… friend of mine, who… sells them.”

Not one look from him could make her say more, even though he certainly tried to pry it out of her. That was her secret, though. She pushed it to the back of her mind and reminded herself that this time her use of illegal potions was a good thing. It was technically criminal, but she did it for a good cause.

11010

They turned to face each other.

“For this to work, I need to hold your hand,” she said, reaching out a hand.

“Nate didn’t touch me.”

She shrugged. “Remember: Shitty mind reader. Skin contact for some reason makes it easier, even if you’re good. I’m bad – I haven’t got a chance of doing it without.”

He took her hand in his then and looked at her.

11011

Don’t think about it, don’t think about it…

She did anyway, and the skin contact made her cheeks glow.

“So, what’s next?” he asked. “You light incense and tell me to close my eyes and… swing a pendulum over my head?”

She smiled. “Just talk. Talking about stuff makes you think about it, and I need you to really focus your thoughts on your friends so that I can see and feel it all.”

Aaron took a deep breath, nodded and started talking. Meanwhile, she listened in on his thoughts. She could just faintly see the image he had of his friends in his head. A better mind reader would have seen them clearly. The words in his mind weren’t much clearer, though she could glean that he had a headache by now.

Milena bit her lip. “Sorry about the headache. I’m so bad at this.”

11012

He nodded, but otherwise ignored her and kept talking. Aaron and his friends had had a party together at Greg’s parents’ house, it was a house by the beach. He had a small group of friends back then, who were all there. More than anything, she could feel the ache of saying goodbye and his longing for those days.

“Tell me about the house and the party,” she said. “Remember everything in as much detail as possible.”

“Greg’s family had parties and vacations there. It was a lovely place. I had visited it once before where Greg and I were supposed to sleep on the sofa, but we ended up sleeping on the beach and woke up with severe hangovers…”

11013

Milena lost connection with his thoughts for a moment, the image of that house burnt into her mind. It couldn’t be….

“Are you okay, or…?” Aaron gave her hand a little squeeze, and she shook out of it.

“Y-yeah, continue. Tell me more about that house.”

She focused her Talent and it became clearer to her eyes.

11014

“Well, the house was pretty classy, as are his parents. I didn’t expect it, because Greg is really… outré in his fashion choices. A little bit of a Casanova, to be honest.” A face appeared in his mind, a very familiar face. “So, the house…”

Milena let go of his hands, like she had burnt herself.

Aaron put a hand on her shoulder. “Are you okay? Do you need a break?”

But she couldn’t hear him. It was starting to make sense.

“Milena?”

Finally, she looked him in the eyes. “How do you know my brother?”


Author’s note: Hoooooleeeeee fudgeballs. I still exist! No, but really, I do. Might have mentioned last time that I’m super duper busy at the moment. Still am. Most of the time, writing just isn’t my first priority… or even my second or third. This chapter has taken so stupidly long to get out and as per usual I’m not satisfied. Though at least some stuff’s going to start happening, now!

Anyway, I hope you’re all doing super well and that there is lots of happiness in your lives as well 🙂

 

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12 thoughts on “CHAPTER ELEVEN | Digging up Memories

  1. Whoa, didn’t see that coming! Nice wham line at the end! Also the mind reading part was done very well. It felt like that’s how actual mind-reading could happen… unlike in many other depictions of it where it seems like people only talk in clear sentences. I really liked the use of images and how fuzzy the mind-reading pics were in this chapter. They really illustrated Milena’s trouble with seeing into Aaron’s mind.

    Also congrats on the puppy! That’s awesome!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very, very much for the kind words 🙂
      The way mind reading is usually depicted annoys me for those very reasons. The mind reader just always reads a random person’s mind and gets the exact detail they need right away. Who ever thinks in perfectly formed sentences all the time? I love the idea of mind reading in general for those reasons – because it should be super hard, but can be a useful tool. But if it’s too easy to do, it’s a total gamebreaker – no need to do research or get to know people: Just read their minds!
      (Sorry, I could just talk about mind reading all day! :D)
      And thank you 😀 I just can’t wait to get him. It’s gonna be great!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t mind talking about mind-reading. I agree with your points on it. I wrote mind-reading as a plot point in my current NaNoWriMo-novel so I’m thinking about it a lot too especially now. In my version it was only possible if the one whose mind was being read specifically focused on thinking clearly in images or words, so it was more like communication through telepathy or something, but more one-sided.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s a cool take on it – I like it 🙂 it also makes the mindreading less of a gamebreaker. I generally subscribe to Brandon Sanderson’s rules for magic systems, because I think they lead to really interesting systems – and thus interesting stories ^_^

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? As per always, I love your writing style, Lou! And I’m trying to go into this new story, forgetting all I know from the “original”. So I totally didn’t see that last line coming at all lol

    I hope we get to see soon why Mils is always so hard on herself. And, I hope the powers that be wake the frig up and smell the canary! I don’t know why, but, I’ve had canaries on the brain lately lol sucks cuz I’m allergic to bird “dander”…

    Oooo PUPPY!! Wanna see pics immediately when you get him!!! Just be so careful with him and don’t ever give rawhide chew toys (the animals love ’em but they can stuff up the stomach and cause blockages in the intestines) and if you give him bones, you need to take them away as soon as the meat and sinew is gone (that was what our vet told us when we took my angel, Izzi, to him cuz a piece of bone was stuck in her colon and was causing pain. Thankfully, with the help of liquid parafin, she passed the block. She was in severe pain for a good number of days though)

    Like

  3. Oh, I love it so very much! And yay, puppies!!!!!!! 😀 And, as has already been said (I know, I’m late… lol) I love the punch line, love the imagery — it’s almost masterful, and I wish I’d have thought about that before!!!!!

    Like

    1. So, yeah, shit happened. We got the puppy and boyfriend broke down with stress. We couldn’t handle it – literally didn’t eat or sleep for all the time he was here, so we had to take the little guy back. We didn’t want to fuck him up.

      I was going to make a post about it, but at first it hurt too much to talk about because we’d been so excited and then we had to take him back, tell everyone about what had been going on, and try to put the pieces of our lives together. We spent two-three days just crying our eyes out.

      Then I had to work on my paper and by the time that was done we both felt better… and then I got sick! I literally only got better today, so I haven’t had the time or energy to make a post about it.

      So sorry. Hope you won’t judge us terribly for our decision. It’s been haunting us ever since.

      Anyway, we’re doing our best to stay on top and hoping that 2017 will be a much better year than this one. Hope you have a great Christmas and a happy New Year 🙂

      Like

      1. No judging! I know how hard it is with a new puppy! I’ve just been lucky that the last 2 times I wasn’t working and was home 24/7 so I could give them the attention they needed! There’s a reason they say that having a new puppy is like having a baby! When we got Izzi and Kalley, I didn’t get a full nights sleep for about a month! And the only reason I finally did get some sleep was because I caved in and made “steps” for them to come onto my bed and sleep with me lol then they started sleeping through the night, the little demons 🙂 even now that all our dogs are grown, they are still a major investment of time and attention! And luckily my dad is now at home (he’s retired) so he is there for them. End of October we literally spent my entire salary on after-hours vet care for Max and Shado! Someone tried to poison them!

        So yeah, no judging! It’s a huge step and rather you do what you had to, than have kept him and maybe you and the BF ended up breaking up from the stress! At least now you know you’re not ready for kids either lol I’m really sorry that it turned out the way it did! I know how those little demons can worm their way into your heart in no time flat, and then to have to give them up!?! Yeah, it would break me as well!

        Hope you start feeling a lot better soon! I recently had bronchitis and it’s still hanging around so, ja, I feel your pain!

        Have a very blessed Festive Season and if we don’t chat before it, a brilliant New Year! Much love,
        Steph
        Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, boyfriend HAS pretty much broken down with stress, so he’s off sick from work. Thankfully he’s slowly getting better. He even had time off specifically to take care of the puppy, but he had been stressed for months 😦 I was so scared for him. Still am sometimes.

        Thank you for your understanding – we’d much rather make sure the little guy gets a good life away from us than mess him up.

        Happy holidays to you and yours and here’s to hoping that 2017 is a much better year than this one has been 🙂

        Like

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